The Pantry Evolves

A little more than a month ago, I posted about my pantry and how disorganized and messy it was.

A bunch of kind folks commented to let me know that my pantry wasn’t that godawful and I should really not worry overmuch about it.

But, you know, due to a genetic flaw from the Bavarian side of the family, I have this underlying need for order and organization. It doesn’t express itself all the time, but sometimes it does, and this weekend was one of Those Times.

So, I tackled two messpits in the house: the utility room and the pantry. And now, if you go back and look at the photos from a month ago and look at these, the whole thing may not look that different at a casual first glance.

But the fact is–there is a whole hell of a lot more food stored in that closet now, AND, it is easier to find things in it. It makes sense now, even to people who Are Not Me. (And since there are two other people living in the house, that is important.)

Like, there is a system to it, and everything. Cooking wines and liquors are together, staples are together, noodles, Asian condiments, tomato products, broths, soups, snacking things and quick things like bread and peanut butter (that is the shelf that is primarily for Morganna and Zak), ramen and the like. There is an entire shelf devoted to cooking oils, then vinegars, soy sauces and other Asian sauces, and other liquid flavorings like Tabasco, and sweeteners like honey.

It makes my Germanic heart go pitter-pat.

And may I just say this: I absolutely love those organizing racks, baskets, shelf-clips, jars and closet dooflinkies that they sell at The Container Store, (but they sell at Lowe’s for a lot less) a whole lot? I am especially fond of the little racks that go on the inside of a door. I was able to put all of my Indian spices in one of those, along with a bunch of dried mushrooms, various Asian condiments and other really neat flavoring items that are small and would otherwise go missing.

Like tubes of anchovy paste.

I had three of them, because I kept losing the ones I already had. Now, I can find them, and know to not buy any for a while so as to avoid having more of the little buggers around the house than are necessary.

I’m getting a second one of those racks to go on the door. I don’t know what I will put in it, but something will go there. Maybe more Asian condiments, like soy bean pastes and the like. Right now, they are somewhat visible, but not comepletely so, on the next to the last shelf.

Ooh–and if you look at the bottom shelf you will see that I found fresh coconuts at Taj’s in Columbus. I just need to get cheesecloth so I can make fresh coconut milk. Indira has convinced me that I can do it.

And you know what that means? Probably fresh Thai curry. Maybe some other goodies.

I have ideas. You will see.

There is still a secondary pantry in the utility room. (And a cabinet devoted to herbs and spices in the kitchen.) I have an entire cabinet devoted to flours, sugars and other baking necessities. I still have tubs of rice in there as well, though, I am thinking of getting deeper, heavier storage bins for it. The bin I have for jasmine rice holds about fifteen pounds, but I buy it in 25 pound bags, while the basmati bin only holds five pounds, and I buy it in ten pound bags–and we go through it very, very quickly these days. So, that is my next project: rice storage facilities.


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  1. You are an inspiration, your pantry looks lovely and well organized. I need to do something with my pantry, it is a disaster area.

    I never thought of those over-the-door thingsamabobs for chinese sauces/condiments, versus, say, vinegars (of which, I have too many). And, for the numerous bags and whole spices…

    Stocking a pantry for a global culinary repatoire can be a real *bleepin’* chore.


    Comment by Jenn — February 27, 2006 #

  2. I am envious of all the space you have for your goodies. There is something vaguely voyeristic about peering at all the foodstuff on your shelves.I found myself thinking “I’ve never seen Rumford cornstarch before…only baking powder.”

    I recently had the urge to do the same oranization blitz at my house. Something about being cooped up inside does it to me.

    For my rice,I bought a 5 gallon container with a tight lid for the bulk package and keep a smaller container near my stove, refilling as needed. There is something satisfying about buying a 25 pound bag of jasmine rice, but in my small apartment,it does pose something of a storage headache.

    It’s been interesting taking stock of what I’ve squirreled away in the pantry these days. It is very different from the pantry I was keeping when I got married fifteen years ago. Much more multicultural in flavor, a little more healthy. Not much thought. I still have a five pound block of chocolate in the baking cupboard!

    My next adventures will most likely be in Indian cooking. Indira has made me feel brave enough to try my hand at paneer. Now where am I going to find room for all those new foodstuffs?!

    Comment by Rosie — February 27, 2006 #

  3. Very impresssive! I know just what you mean about this feeling great to do. I try to do mine once a year around the new year. Throwing out old beans/grains that I haven’t used at all to make room for others, reorganizing and consolidating etc. Mine is not as organized by yours but I try to group like things together so I have some hope of finding them. I still do things like buying two rice vinegars however…

    Comment by Diane — February 27, 2006 #

  4. interesting. you just gave me a cool idea for the title of a food blog “the evolving food panty”

    Comment by Gustad Mody — February 27, 2006 #

  5. Aww, your pantry looks spiffy! I like those hanging baskets you have over the doors. The hot and humid weather here keeps me from buying many, many things that I would only use once in a long, long while, and which means I need a lot of fridge space. So, I’ve been kind of an armchair cook, thinking of the day that I could open my fridge and cupboard and have everything right there, fresh and fragrant as they can be. Yeah…keep dreaming…

    Comment by Shirley — February 27, 2006 #

  6. Jenn–Yes, global cooking necessitates the purchase of lots of global ingredients, which then necessitates storage solutions.

    Hence the racks and whatnot. The over the door thingie is great–I am going to install another one lower down–these drill into the door itself, and don’t hang over the door, so you can attach as many racks as your door is tall.

    Rosie–Indira has a way of making us all brave, doesn’t she? I am lucky in that not only do I have the room for the twenty-five pound bag of rice, but now that Morganna is living with us, that bag of rice goes faster than it did when eaten by just two people.

    Well, that and all the friends who drop by at dinner time…they help, too.

    Gustad–that is a great idea for a blog title! If you take it up, let me know!

    Shirley–Thanks! I think it looks plenty spiffy now, and I am happy for it. I really don’t like cooking in a disorganized space. I was like that before, but culinary school really beat that out of me. Now disorder and chaos in the pantry really unsettles me.

    Comment by Barbara — February 28, 2006 #

  7. I recently moved into a new pantry – part of a (still ongoing) kitchen remodel. One way I ensured that others would be able to understand my organization is that I put labels on the shelves!

    Comment by Tricia — February 28, 2006 #

  8. I lost my pantry when we moved a year ago and the garage is also further away (and full of still-packed boxes). Even with a larger kitchen, I am still at a loss for where to put everything. Another thing that’s being lost in the showcase kitchens nobody ever cooks in — the practical touches like adequate storage for (*gasp*) food.

    Comment by kitchenmage — March 2, 2006 #

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